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About the Image : Diffusion Dynamics in an Historical Network


Krempel,  Lothar
Theorien und Methoden, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Krempel, L., & Schnegg, M. (2006). About the Image: Diffusion Dynamics in an Historical Network. Structure and Dynamics, 1(1), 1-7.

The journal logo illustrates the use of dynamic visualization to complement network and statistical analysis in the study of social, political, economic and historical processes generally. In giving credit to the authors of the logo, this is an invited paper that summarizes earlier work on how existing social networks are transformed into political action in times of rapid social change. Citing Krempel and Schnegg (1988): "This general theoretical problem is exemplified for the 1848/49 Revolution in Esslingen, a middle-sized German town. We use data from more than 200 historical sources to identify patterns of activity and social linkages for more than 2000 inhabitants of Esslingen at the time of the revolution and during the 15 years preceding it." Results indicate that while existing social structure plays a key role for mobilization processes, the picture needs to be differentiated in theory, explanation, and statistical analysis. To this end, dynamic visualization, as developed by Krempel (2005), can be extraordinarily powerful in understanding how network processes are interlinked. Structure does not have the same effect at each stage of an historical process and for every person involved. Mobilization does not only take place through the existing structure but also occurs in more distinct regions of the network where a common situation and an equivalent position in society at large are the driving forces behind the organization of protest. These differentiated processes are evident in the dynamic gif logo and the detailed explication of its visualized network components through time.